Biblia Rabbinica (DFG)
Funded by the German Research Foundation, beginning October 2020
The so-called textus receptus (TR) of the Hebrew Bible is based on a Tiberian Masoretic tradition which, first and foremost, traces back to the Ben Asher family of Masoretes. This textual tradition first spread – likely in part due to the particular appreciation shown by Maimonides (ca. 1135-1204; Hilkhot Sefer Torah 8,4) – in the Islamic-dominated Maghrebi and Ibero-Sephardic area, and later, in the wake of Hebrew book printing, in the Christian world as well. Its presentation in Daniel Bomberg's so-called second Rabbinic Bible (1525) gave rise to a standard form which is still valid today.
Other textual forms have also been preserved (Palestinian; Yemenite-Babylonian; Ashkenazic), and a multitude of medieval manuscripts contain true textual variants, especially Ashkenazic and Italian works. However, Bible quotations as found in modern editions of Rabbinic literature have been gradually adjusted to conform to the TR in the last four to five centuries, as a result of which it is impossible to make a clear philological statement about the biblical text traditions underpinning Rabbinic writings. Nor do we have even a basic understanding of the diverse nature of the Hebrew consonantal Biblical text across the various geo-cultural areas of Judaism.
The goal of this project is the complete computer-based acquisition and analysis of the variant readings found in selected Rabbinic texts taken from the Babylonian-Yemenite text traditions. The textual variants will be compared with other textual witnesses and traditio-historically classified. The following works will be investigated: the Samaritan recensions; Greek Bible text recensions, in the form of the Septuagint(s), Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion; the Peshitta (Syriac); Vetus Latina and Vulgata (Latin); the Targum recensions (Aramaic); and additional collections of variants by Kennicott and de Rossi. The analysis of these variants will open up thus far neglected perspectives on reconstructing the historically diverse Biblical text as found through the High Middle Ages. Moreover, it will showcase practically uninvestigated material on the flexibility of Bible text traditions within Rabbinic literature.